Euro Cup 2012: Racism, violence and football

Zeenews Sports Bureau

When Europe’s biggest football event enters its sixth day, let us take a quick look back at the actions on and off the field so far in the Euro 2012.

Spain’s false-nine experiment

Before the match, the talks had been who would lead the Spanish attack in the absence of David Villa - Fernando Torres or Alvaro Negredo? Vicente del Bosque fielded neither of them, instead decided to go the Barcelona way. Spain fielded six midfielders with no striker with Cesc Fabregas playing the ‘false-nine’ role in Vicente del Bosque’s 4-6-0 formation. Even when Del Bosque insists the plan had not worked badly, some see it otherwise. However, it was Fabregas who scored through a pass from Silva to level the scores, three minutes after the Italians took lead. Soon after the arrival of real ‘nine’ Fernando Torres, Spain looked more threatening with Buffon denying Torres upfront on few occasions. The question is was their attack sterile in the absence of a striker?

Holland upset

One of the favourites to lift the Euro 2012 trophy, Netherlands got off on the wrong foot to their campaign. They were stunned by the Danes even after enjoying a lion’s share of ball possession in the game. To make things worse, the former European champions are apparently hit by revolt within the team after the loss against Denmark. Moreover, many feel captain Van Bommel enjoys the current status in the team because of coach Bert van Marwijk, who is also his father-in-law. With this loss, the Dutch are in a do-or-die situation against mighty Germans.

Andriy Shevchenko as we knew him

If not for Euro 2012, which his country co-hosts, 35-year-old Andriy Shevchenko would have been enjoying his post-retirement period by now. But he stayed only to give Ukraine a win over Sweden in their first-ever European Championship fixture. He scored in the 55th and 62nd minutes of the game, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic slotted home from close range in the 52nd minute, for the co-hosts to put them on top of the Group D that also includes England and France. Sweden now have a herculean task ahead of them if they were to make the next stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo fails yet again

World’s most valuable footballer yet again failed to deliver the goods for his national team as Portugal started their Euro 2012 campaign on a losing note. Portugal are drawn against heavyweights Germany and Holland in the Group of Death, which also features Denmark. Despite showing glimpses of his magnificent self in Real Madrid colours, Ronaldo left the field helpless and frustrated as he failed to find the net in the opener against Germany where they lost 0-1. A player that has averaged more than a goal per game for Real Madrid over the last three years has managed only five in 20 appearances for Portugal at two European Championships and two World Cups.

Racism mars Euro 2012

The Euro 2012 football tournament was marred by racism even before the opening match kicked off. Video footages of racist and violent incidents at recent club matches in Ukraine, including tournament host city Kharkiv, surfaced in the media added more fodder to the fire. Even when the European football governing body UEFA vowed to crack down on racism at the championships, players continued to face abuses from racist fans. Dutch players were subjected to monkey chants in an open training session in Krakow, Poland. Italy forward Mario Balotelli, meanwhile, was reportedly the subject of racist abuse during his side`s 1-1 draw against the current European and world champions Spain. Czech full-back Theodor Gebre Selassie claimed he had "noticed" some racist chanting aimed towards him during their 4-1 loss against Russia. Following the official complaint, UEFA has started further investigations.